No one, not even the boffins at General Motors, is sure about the exact origins of Chevrolet. However, it is surely a well established fact that Chevrolet co-founder William C. Durant introduced the bowtie badge in 1913. The badge made its debut on the 1914 Chevrolet H-2 Royal Mail and the H-4 Baby Grand.
100 years later, the famous Chevrolet bowtie has already marked its presence on more than 215 million Chevys worldwide. Out of these 215 million cars, 60 million remain on the roads. GM claims that a Chevrolet model is sold every 6.39 seconds, in one of the 140 countries across the world.
“The Chevrolet bowtie is recognized around the world and has become synonymous with American ingenuity,” said Chevrolet Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney. “Whether you’re pulling thousands of pounds through rocky terrain in a Silverado pickup or commuting in a Spark EV, Chevrolet’s bowtie will always be at the very front of your travels.” he added.
Here is what GM told us about the origin of the famed bowtie badge and the various theories about it:
“Stories range from Durant being inspired by the wallpaper design in a Parisian hotel to a newspaper advertisement he saw while vacationing in Hot Springs, Va. Durant’s widow and daughter have offered alternative explanations.
According to Margery Durant, in her 1929 book My Father, Durant sometimes doodled nameplate designs on pieces of paper at the dinner table. “I think it was between the soup and the fried chicken one night that he sketched out the design that is used on the Chevrolet car to this day,” she wrote.
But in a 1968 interview, Durant’s widow, Catherine, said the bowtie design originated from a Hot Springs vacation in 1912. While reading a newspaper in their hotel room, Durant spotted a design and exclaimed, “I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet.” Unfortunately, Mrs. Durant never clarified what the motif was or how it was used.
But that nugget of information inspired Ken Kaufmann, historian and editor of The Chevrolet Review, to search out its validity. In a Nov. 12, 1911 edition of The Constitution newspaper, published in Atlanta, an advertisement appeared from by the Southern Compressed Coal Company for “Coalettes,” a refined fuel product for fires. The Coalettes logo, as published in the ad, had a slanted bowtie form, very similar to the shape that would soon become the Chevrolet icon.
Did Durant and his wife see the same ad – or one similar – the following year a few states to the north? The date of the paper Kaufmann found was just nine days after the incorporation of the Chevrolet Motor Co. The first use of the bowtie by Chevrolet appeared in the Oct. 2, 1913 edition of The Washington Post with the words “Look for this nameplate” above the symbol.”